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The Power Report: King of the New Stars starts; Sumire’s progress; Most wins; Best winning streaks; Promotions

Thursday September 29, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

King of the New Stars starts

King of New Stars Kato Yuki

The first game in the 47th King of the New Stars best-of-three title match was played at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in on September 22. Go Weekly is billing this game as “the plain style” v. “the chaotic style.” Otake Yu 7-dan likes to keep things straightforward, whereas his opponent in the match, Sakai Yuki 3-dan, likes to plunge the game into messy fighting. In the first game, Sakai’s style prevailed. Taking black, he forced a resignation after 207 moves. This loss put an end to a winning streak of 13 games that Otake had enjoyed. The second game will be played on September 30.

Sumire’s progress

Nakamura Sumire’s results for the year so far are 36-16 (see “Most Wins” item below). Her overall results as a pro are 117 wins to 58 losses, so she has won just over two-thirds of her games.

(Aug. 8) Sumire (B) beat Kawai Shoji 6-dan by resig. (Prelim B, 48th Gosei).

(Aug. 11) Sumire beat Hoda Shota 1-dan; beat Kawahara Yu 1-dan; beat Miura Taro 2-dan (these games were in the 3rd Discovery Cup—see article above).

(Aug. 18) Sumire  (W) lost to Ueno Asami Women’s Hollyhock by resig. (semifinal, 41st Women’s Honinbo).

(Aug. 25) Sumire (W) beat Tsuneishi Takashi 5-dan by 6.5 points (Prelim. B, 48th Gosei). With this win, Sumire advanced to the A preliminary.

(Aug. 29) Sumire (W) beat Suzukawa Natsumi 1-dan by resig.; Sumire (W) beat Cho Chien 2-dan by resig.; Sumire (W) beat Taguchi Misei 2-dan by resig. (these games were in the preliminary, 17th Young Carp). Sumire secured a seat in the main tournament (the best 16).

(Sept. 8) Sumire (B) beat Nakaonoda Tomomi 9-dan by resig. (Prelim. B, 71st Oza).

(Sept. 22) Sumire (W) beat Kuwabara Yoko 6-dan by resig. (Prelim. A, 26th Women’s Kisei).

Most wins (as of Sept. 23)

1. Ueno Asami: 38-14

2. Nakamura Sumire: 36-16

3. Ichiriki Ryo: 34-18

4. Nyu Eiko: 33-14

5. Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo: 32-13

6. Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan: 31-9

7. Otake Yu 7-dan: 30-6

8. Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan: 28-18

9. Ida Atsushi 9-dan: 27-12; Kato Chie 2-dan: 27-13

Best winning streaks

10: Hane Yasumasa 9-dan

8: Kato Yuki 7-dan, Nyu Eiko Women’s Senko Cup, Nakamura Sumire 2-dan

7: Rin Kanketsu 8-dan, Koike Yoshihiro 7-dan

6: Mizokami Tomochika 9-dan, Ueno Risa 2-dan

5: Cho U 9-dan, Akiyama Jiro 9-dan, Kono Takashi 8-dan, Sotoyanagi Sebun 4-dan

Streaks that have ended since my last report.

13: Otake Yu 7-dan

9: Sasaka Shiro 8-dan,

8: Sakai Yuki 3-dan, Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan, Shibano Toramaru 9-dan, Sonoda Yasutaka 9-dan, Tajiri Yuto 5-dan, Tanaka Nobuyuki 4-dan

7: Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan, Izumitani Hideo 9-dan, Suzuki Ayumi 7-dan, Hirata Tomoya 7-dan, Mukai Chiaki 6-dan, Muramoto Wataru 4-dan

6: Itani Shunta 2-dan, Nakamura Hidehito 9-dan, Hirose Yuichi 6-dan, Tsuruyama Atsushi, Takao Mari 1-dan, Shuto Shun 8-dan, Ohashi Hirofumi 7-dan

5: Ida Atsushi 8-dan, Kobayashi Izumi 7-dan, Miura Taro 2-dan, Fujisawa Rina Women’s Honinbo, Mimura Tomoyasu 9-dan, Kumamoto Shusei 4-dan, Kato Chie 2-dan, Terayama Rei 6-dan, Sotoyanagi Sebun 4-dan, Arimura Hiroshi 9-dan, Yamagisawa Satoshi 6-dan


To 7-dan: Kurotaki Masaki (120 wins, as of Aug. 23); Otake Yu (for entering the Honinbo League, as of Sept. 9)

To 6-dan: Yamamoto Kentaro (90 wins, as of Aug. 12)

To 3-dan: Utani Shunta (40 wins, as of Sept. 16)


Eric Lui and Alex Qi share 1st place at NGC tourney; Pair Go/Paella Night returns

Wednesday September 28, 2022

On left: Mark Fraser 7K plays six-year-old Winston Yan 7K.
On right: Alex Qi 1P (L) faces off against Eric Lui 2P (R) as rising star Richard Duan 2D (C) watches

Tied up with 3-1 records, Eric Lui 2P and Alex Qi 1P shared first place at the National Go Center’s Back To School Tournament this past Saturday, September 24th. With 27 participants, the tournament featured a “plethora of exciting games” and gave players an opportunity to watch professional players in action. “It was great to see two of our North American professionals competing in one of our local tournaments,” said TD Gurujeet Khalsa.

photo by Chris Garlock

Other notable appearances included rising local go star Richard Duan 2D (pictured above at right watching a game between Eric and Alex), and Mark Fraser 7K from Albuquerque who can be seen above left playing six-year-old Winston Yan 7K.  “Winston is another young up-and-comer destined for the Dan ranks,” Khalsa noted.

The tournament kicked off the previous evening with the return of the popular Pair Go/Paella night. Chris Garlock made his famous paella and 16 players socialized and competed at four tables. The top board winners were James Pinkerton 5D and Larry Kaufman 2D.

Three-game winners at the Back To School Tournament on Saturday were Eric Liu (2P), Alex Qi (1P), Richard Duan (2D), Jake Vikoren (1D), Lee Hyungwook (5K), Mark Fraser (7K) and Ashley Qi (11K).


The Power Report: Yo to challenge Iyama for Oza; Ueno to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; New youngest player at Nihon Ki-in; Shibano wins Kisei S League

Wednesday September 28, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Yo to challenge Iyama for Oza

Yo Seiki 8-dan

The play-off to decide the challenger for the 70th Oza title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 29. Taking black, Yo Seiki 8-dan of the Kansai Ki-in beat Shibano Toramaru 9-dan by resig. after 191 moves. This will be his fourth challenge for a top-seven title. In the 64th Oza (2016), he lost 0-3 to Iyama; in the 55th Judan (2017), he lost 1-3 to Iyama; and in the 60th Judan (2022), he lost 0-3 to Yo Kagen. He has also come second in the 38th King of the New Stars (2013), the 23rd (2014) and 26th (2017) Ryusei tournaments, and the 68th NHK Cup (2021), so his career is a little reminiscent of that of the late Kato Masao’s. Yo will be hoping he can turn it around as dramatically as Kato did. It may not be a consolation, but he has won the Kansai Ki-in No. One Position title five years in a row.

Ueno to challenge for Women’s Honinbo

Kato Chie 2-dan

The play-off to decide the challenger for the 41st Women’s Honinbo title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on September 1. Based on results this year, you can argue that four players make up the top group in Japanese women’s go: Fujisawa Rina, Ueno Asami, Nyu Eiko, and Nakamura Sumire. However, the play-off featured a player who may be a new face for Western readers: Kato Chie 2-dan. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce her. Kato was born on September 13, 2001. Her results have been consistently good since she became a professional in April 2018 and recently she got into the top ten in the “most wins” list. Her consistent results are proof of significant talent, as she has to battle a major handicap in her daily life. As a child, she suffered from a bone disease that prevented the full development of her bones, so she has to use a wheelchair. Her bones were fragile and she had broken bones about 20 times. Fortunately, she received treatment that stopped these breaks. She took up go in kindergarten and in sixth grade, in 2013, she won the 34th (all-Japan) Boys and Girls Tournament, the first time in 14 years that a girl had won it (that was Mukai Chiaki in 1999). She started out at the Osaka branch of the Nihon Ki-in, but then switched to Nagoya. Her win-loss record to date is 116-74 (61%) and she will surely be a title-winner soon. 

The play-off was won by Ueno Asami (W) by 4.5 points. Kato had the lead, but Ueno pulled off an upset in the endgame. Ueno took the 38th Women’s Honinbo title from Fujisawa in 2019, but the latter reclaimed it in 2020. If Ueno wins it back, it will be her 10th title. The match starts on October 4.

New youngest player at Nihon Ki-in

Yanagihara Saki 1-dan

At a press conference held on September 13, the Nihon Ki-in announced that Yanagihara Saki would be inducted as 1-dan by the Ki-in’s Women’s Special Induction Recommendation system. Yanagihara is in sixth grade and is 11 years old; she is a member of the A class in the Nihon Ki-in insei system. She will officially become 1-dan in April 2023, but she will begin playing professional games in January. She took second place in the section for 12 years and under in the World Youth Championship run by the Ing Chang-Ki Foundation. The four insei teachers all recommended Yanagihara and the Nihon Ki-in board of directors approved her appointment on September 13th. She will be the youngest professional. She learned go from her parents, both of whom play go, when she was three. She has studied at Hong Seisen’s dojo. Hong 4-dan is a member of the Kansai Ki-in, but he runs a go school in Tokyo. He seems to be a very good teacher, as many of his students have succeeded in becoming pros and are doing well.

Shibano wins Kisei S League

Although he still has a game to play in the 47th Kisei S League, Shibano Toramaru is in an unbeatable position with 4-0, as every other player has at least two losses. Takao Shinji secured second place when Iyama Yuta lost his last game. Results since my last report follow.

(Aug. 11) Takao Shinji 9-dan (W) beat Yo Seiki by resig.

(Aug. 18) Shibano Toramaru 9-dan (W) beat Kyo Kagen Judan by resig.

(Sept. 1) Iyama Yuta (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8-dan by 1.5 points.

(Sept. 12) Takao (B) beat Murakawa by resig.

(Sept. 22) Kyo Kagen Judan (B) beat Iyama Yuta by resig.

A and B Leagues

The play-off between the winners of the B1 and B2 Leagues was held at the Nihon Ki-in on August 25. Taking black, Suzuki Shinji 7-dan beat Fujita Akihiko 7-dan by 5.5 points. Suzuki won the B League 7-0, so he now had eight wins in a row in the Kisei tournament. The A League was decided on August 25, when Yamashita Keigo beat Hane Naoki. This took Yamashita to 6-1, two points clear of the field.

Knock-out to decide the challenger

The final irregular knock-out to decide the challenger looks like this. Otake Yu 7-dan (C winner) v. Suzuki Shinji 7-dan (B winner), the winner v. Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (A winner), the winner v. Takao Shinji (2nd in S), the winner v. Shibano. The last two play a best-of-three in which Shibano is gifted a win at the outset. Takao’s only path to the challengership is winning 2-0 whereas Shibano needs just one win. 

Just for the record: The current league system, topped by the S League and ending in the irregular knock-out, was introduced in the 40th term of the Kisei. So far, it has been held seven times, and each time the winner of the S League has become the challenger. During that time, Kono Rin was the challenger three times and each time he lost the first game in the best-of-three, the only S League winner to do so. In two cases, his opponent was Takao, so he knows from bitter experience how tough the challenge will be for him.

Tomorrow: King of the New Stars starts; Sumire’s progress; Most wins; Best winning streaks; Promotions


Registration opens for 2022 Chicago Rapid Championship

Tuesday September 27, 2022

The main playing hall at the 2022 May Chicago Open

Registration has opened for the 2022 Chicago Rapid Championship. The tournament will be held on Saturday, November 12 in Evanston, Illinois. Registration and tournament details can be found here. Register by 11/1 for early-bird pricing and free entry into a raffle for a lesson with Alex Qi 1p.

The Championship will feature the longstanding arena-style handicap division for players from beginner to mid-dan, as well as a rapid-format Open division for high-dan players. There will be live streaming and a variety of prizes, including cash, medals, and lessons from North American pros and prominent go teachers.

“Our tournaments are so big now we don’t even fit in one room,” remarked co-organizer Mark Rubenstein, reflecting on the previous blockbuster turnout at the May Chicago Open, which drew 84 people. 

“The Chicago Rapid Championship will be even better,” said fellow co-organizer Albert Yen 8d. “This time, we want to maximize interactions between professional players and the community. We are honored to have Tim Song 1p, winner of the 2018 US Open Masters, come as a special guest to provide reviews to players of all levels. Bracket winners in the main division will also have a chance to play a teaching game with Alex Qi 1p, the youngest North American pro. Even our Twitch stream commentary will be led by Eric Lui, a 2-dan professional and veteran player in the North American Go scene.”

“Pro game review, teaching games with pros, and stream commentary by pros,” Rubenstein reflected, “In my 30 years as a go organizer, I’ve never seen so much pro involvement in the Midwest!” 


The Power Report: Shibano takes lead in Meijin title match; Seats filled in the new Honinbo League; China dominates 4th Nie Weiping tournament

Tuesday September 27, 2022

By John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Shibano takes lead in Meijin title match

Shibano Toramaru 9-dan at left

In the 47th Meijin title match, the challenger, Shibano Toramaru 9-dan, has made a good start, taking a 2-1 lead over the defending Meijin, Iyama Yuta. However, Shibano had the bitter experience of taking a 3-1 lead over Iyama in the Honinbo title match last year without being able to win the title, so he won’t be counting his chickens. So far, Shibano has played five title matches with Iyama and won only of them. They are: the 67th Oza (2019), which Shibano, the challenger, won 3-1; the 45th Meijin (2020), which Iyama, the challenger, won 4-1; the 75th Honinbo (2020), which Iyama defended 4-1; the 76th Honinbo (2021), which Iyama defended 4-3; the 69th Oza title (2021), which Iyama defended 3-2.

The first game was played in the customary venue for opening games in recent years, the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, on August 24 and 25. Shibano drew black in the nigiri. In the opening, he played less aggressively than usual, storing up strength instead. This seems to have let Iyama secure a small territorial lead. Shibano kept on playing patiently, so White’s territorial lead became decisive. Black made use of his thickness to launch an all-out attack on a large, weak white group, which Black had surrounded on a large scale. However, Iyama found the perfect move to rescue this group. Black kept attacking it and reduced it to one eye, but in the end, he found that he had to give up one of his own attacking groups or let White link up. Shibano resigned after 152. In effect, he didn’t get a chance to use his stored-up strength to full advantage.

The second game was played at the Todaya, a long-established traditional inn in Toba City, Mie Prefecture, on September 5 and 6. Shibano (W) played very boldly in the early middle game, making an invasion in which he used 11 stones as a sacrifice. However, the limited compensation he got on the outside didn’t seem to justify the sacrifice. Iyama maintained a lead throughout most of the middle game, but he went wrong in an invasion into White’s moyo. In a position in which there were only two feasible moves, he chose the wrong one. Shibano took profit from attacking the group, enabling him to upset Black’s lead; in the end, he no longer needed to kill the group. Black resigned after White 220.

The third game was played at the Hotel Agora Osaka Moriguchi in Moriguchi City, Osaka Prefecture, on September 15 and 16. As in the previous two games, Iyama (W) took the early lead in territory and staked the game on a shinogi strategy, that is, on being able to rescue groups in trouble. Shibano again built thickness. The game was very close all the way through. Perhaps it became slightly favorable for Black when he walled off one side of a center moyo by sacrificing a few stones in sente. A little later, he had the option of attacking a vulnerable white group, but there would have been uncertainties involved. Shibano calculated that a peaceful enclosing move would retain a small lead. His calculations in choosing this safety-first move turned out to be correct. Convinced that he was behind, Iyama abruptly resigned after Black 171. The players following the game in the pressroom were astonished—according to their endgame research, Black had a win, but the margin was just half a point. 

For the second time in a best-of-seven, Shibano had the lead over Iyama, but he was well aware that the match had only just started. The fourth game will be played on October 6 and 7.

Seats filled in the new Honinbo League

The first seat in the 78th Honinbo League was decided on August 18 in a game held at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in, Fujita Akihiko 7-dan (B) beat Ida Atsushi 8-dan, a former Honinbo challenger (the 69th term), by resig. Fujita will make his debut in a league.

The second seat was decided on August 25. Motoki Katsuya 8-dan (W) beat Cho U 9-dan by resig. Motoki regained his seat immediately after dropping out. Cho U failed to make a comeback after an absence of six years.

The remaining two seats were decided on September 8. Tsuruyama Atsushi 8-dan (B) beat Hirata Tomoya 7-dan by resig., securing a seat in the Honinbo League for the third year in a row. Otake Yu 6-dan (W) beat Fujisawa Rina by resig. Otake will make his debut in a big-three league (Kisei S, Meijin, Honinbo); he earned an automatic promotion to 7-dan. Unfortunately, Fujisawa Rina missed her second chance to be the first woman player to enter a top league—three years ago she lost a play-off to enter the Meijin League to Ichiriki Ryo. 

The new league will start in October.

China dominates 4th Nie Weiping tournament

The Nie Weiping Cup Youth Masters, named after the legendary Chinese player who dominated international go in the 1980s, is an unofficial tournament for 16 young players from the four Far Eastern countries with professional systems. The tournament is open to players born on January 1, 2002, or later. The time allowance is one hour plus byo-yomi of 30 seconds a move. The first two rounds were held on the net on August 27. In the opening round, China fielded eight players, who won seven games; Wen of Korea was the only one to dent their record and he was eliminated in the next round.

Results are given below. The dates of the semifinals and the final have not yet been decided. First prize is 250,000 yuan (about $35,100).

(Round 1)  Zheng Zaixiang 4-dan (China) beat Xu Jing’en 4-dan (Chinese Taipei); Li Haotong 4-dan (China) beat Lee 4-dan (Korea); Tu Xiaoyu 7-dan (China) beat Kweon 4-dan (Korea); Wen Minzhong 5-dan (Korea) beat Wang Chunhui 2-dan (China); Zhou Hongyu 6-dan (B) beat Miura Taro 2-dan (Japan) by resig.; Zhang Baiqing 2-dan (China) beat Sakai Yuki 3-dan (Japan) by 5.5 points; Jin Yucheng 4-dan (China) (B) beat Fukuoka Kotaro 3-dan (Japan) by resig.; Wang Xinghao 7-dan (China) beat Lai Junfu 7-dan (Ch. Taipei).

(Round 2) Li beat Zheng; Tu beat Wen; Zhang beat Zhou; Wang beat Jin.

(Semifinal pairings) Li v. Tu, Zhang v. Wang

Tomorrow: Yo to challenge Iyama for Oza; Ueno to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; New youngest player at Nihon Ki-in; Shibano wins Kisei S League


Problem of the Week

Simply Sweet

Black to play